I’ve never really been a singlehander

I lasted two months.

And in those two months, I flew to Annapolis to give a talk at a yacht club, I flew to St. Thomas to cover the Rolex Regatta, and I flew down to the Exumas and helped Bruce sail Wild Matilda the 800 or so miles down to Culebra. I was doing everything I could do to stay busy.

What I didn’t do was spend any time on my own boat all alone. You see, I’ve never REALLY been a singlehander. I always had my canine crew. And as the time grew closer for me to take off aboard my own boat for my summer trip to the Abacos, I began combing the rescue sites looking for a new little buddy and first mate. And I found him.

Meet Barney.

 Barney is an 8-month old, 11-pound pup who was picked up as a stray on the streets of Miami by Miami Dade Animal Services and rescued from there by United Yorkie Rescue. After an approval process that was only slightly more rigorous than that required for a tenure-track teaching position, I adopted him and brought him home on May 25th – last Friday.

And the fun began. Since Chip was sixteen and a half years old when he died, I was quite accustomed to living with a blind, deaf, geriatric dog who slept about 80% of the time and walked at the speed of a sea slug.  Boy, have things changed around here.

I’ve been working all week on the scanned text of the last two novels in my Seychelle series that I’ve been self publishing. I had the mass market versions of the books scanned by Blue Leaf Scanning. I’ve been formatting the plain text rtf file they sent, and I’ve had to clean up all the mistakes that the OCR introduced into the text. For example, all the words spelled “stern” became “stem.” Most of us boaters know there is a big difference between the stern and the stem of a boat! All the “corners” became “comers.” Many of the instances of capital I (quite a few in books written in the first person) had become the numeral 1. All the italics were gone and a third of the returns were screwed up. And so on. This is tedious, nit-picking work. You can do some search and replace stuff, but you have to be able to spot the errors in the first place, and it’s not easy. I really have to concentrate.

By now I know that any of you who have ever lived with a puppy are laughing. Right? Concentrate with a new puppy around? Yeah, right.

I have a stack of new flooring in my apartment that is all wrapped in plastic, and those needle-sharp puppy teeth start gnawing on the plastic as soon as I get to the second line of the first paragraph. I throw a ball which he grabs and then he dashes under the futon. He emerges a few seconds later with a red plastic pen (from my old teaching days) that he has nearly chewed through. I rescue the pen and return to the computer, make it through one more line and I hear an odd noise from behind the couch. He has one of my flip flops and when I try to grab it, he scoots off to the other side of the room dragging the shoe that is nearly the size of him, then sticks his butt up in the air and dares me to chase him for it.

In one week, I have learned to type one-handed while playing tug-o-war with the other. And it occurs to me that he is training me very well to play with him whenever he is bored – which is 80% of the time.

So, I find myself editing between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 3:00 a.m. when the exhausted puppy is out cold, and while I pushed publish on Bitter End yesterday, I will need another couple of days to finish Wreckers’ Key. It takes these books 5-6 days to chug through the Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing system as they must ask me every time if I am absolutely positively sure I have the rights back. This time I had to send them my reversion of rights letter, too.

I’ve had Barney on the boat at the dock and tried to do a few little jobs out there, but I am about as effective with Barney around the boat as I am on the computer. He has already figured out how to climb the steps from the main salon to the cockpit, and he is fascinated by the water. He wants to run out on deck and stare at the water. Like many dogs who ended up loose on the street, he is frightened of loud noises. I haven’t started the engine yet – but today, in preparation, I bought a collapsable dog crate so I can at least keep him safe when I can’t attend to him underway. By the end of the summer, though, I expect I will have turned him into a good little boat dog.

I expect that to start within a week because the good news from Mike and Mary a couple days ago was – Houston, we have ignition. The engine is running and we are ready for lift off! So, if all goes according to plan, I will have to write up an early blog post next week since I hope to be sailing Talespinner across the Gulf Stream next Thursday night with my buddy Barney by my side and Rough Draft – my buddy boat – on the horizon.

Fair winds!



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About Christine Kling

I have spent more than thirty years living on and around boats and cruising the waters of the North and South Pacific, the Atlantic, and the Caribbean. I’ve written articles and stories for many boating publications including Sailing, Cruising World, Motor Boating & Sailing, and The Tiller and the Pen. When I was married, I helped my husband build a 55-foot custom sailing yacht. After launching her, we sailed through the Panama Canal to St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands where we chartered for over two years. While in the islands, I received my 100-ton Auxiliary Sail Captains license. It was that sailing experience that led me to set my first nautical suspense novel, SURFACE TENSION (2002), on the waterfront in Fort Lauderdale. Featuring Florida female tug and salvage captain, Seychelle Sullivan, the first book was followed by CROSS CURRENT (2004) and BITTER END (2005). The fourth book in the series, WRECKERS’ KEY was released in February 2007. At the end of the 2010-11 academic year, I took the motto of this blog to heart. I quit my day job as an English professor at Broward College in Fort Lauderdale (just when they offered me tenure, I said no thanks and took early retirement). I was living the dream of full-time cruising on board my 33-foot Caliber Talespinner on my very tiny pension and whatever I made from my books having parted ways with the big publishing establishment. I self-published two books on my own: a small collection of four short stories entitled SEA BITCH: Four Tales of Nautical Noir and my first stand-alone sailing thriller set in the Caribbean, CIRCLE OF BONES. In 2012 I was offered a publishing deal with Amazon's mystery/thriller imprint Thomas&Mercer and they reissued CIRCLE OF BONES. The sequel to that book, DRAGON'S TRIANGLE came out in June 2014. And as for me, I'm no longer a singlehander on my little boat. I met Wayne Hodgins in 2013 and after a whirlwind Skype courtship, I flew to meet him in Fiji and we sailed a nearly 2000 mile passage to the Marshall Islands for our "first date." We now sail together aboard LEARNATIVITY, a 52-foot motor sailor with our family including Barney, the Yorkshire Terror and Ruby, the Wonder Dog.
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11 Responses to I’ve never really been a singlehander

  1. What wonderful news, both for you and Barney and Mike and Mary! I can’t tell you how happy reading this made me — I’ve always been a strong believer in rescued pets, and every one of mine has come from the streets or the shelter. It’s funny how as we adjust to our aging companions we gradually forget what a handful they were in their younger days. I’m sure Barney will keep you on your toes, but it won’t be long before he learns the ropes, so to speak, and I see many happy years ahead with your adorable new crewmate aboard. Congratulations to you both!

  2. Tom Tripp says:

    Great news on all fronts! And if you need an extra set of eyes to proof the texts, I’ve got time and good rates (free!!).

  3. C.E. – Thanks so much for the good wishes. Yes, I thought I had “remembered” that puppies were a handful, but I had forgotten what that really meant. But we’ll get each other trained one way or another.
    Tom – Thanks for the offer! The great thing about ebooks is that we can keep updating them every time somebody points out an error, and I’m happy to take any and all help offered. Ebooks will soon be on the way!
    I had lunch with Mike and Mary today, and Mike handed me the puppy back just like a grandfather handing the grandkid back to its tired parent. The twinkle in his eye said, “He’s cute but he’s all yours!!”

  4. First, a hearty congratulations! Kenneth Grahame missed an animal, didn’t he? Those of us who love dogs so much would “absolutely” have to add them into that sentence somewhere, even while mess in’ about in boats! Like CE, I am a big supporter of Rescue. Very happy for you both.

    Second, two words: Bull Whiz They’ve saved me and our puppies or rather, my shoes, furniture, etc a thousand time over and are a lot safer and healthier than ink pens.

    Looking forward to reading the next Seychelles book and to seeing where a Yorkie appears in future stories:)

    Fair winds, Kaci

  5. M.J. Fievre says:

    Congrats on adopting this cute lil’ pumpkin! He looks just like Wiskee, my own baby–they could be twins. He might be an Australian Silk Terrier, and not a Yorkie. People often think he’s a Yorkie mix but he’s actually a pure breed.

  6. Barbara says:

    Congrats on the new addition!

  7. More time on the poop deck for you! Congratulations on this exciting new addition to the Christine family. And, you quit your day job? Wow. Good for you for living the dream, Chris. Hope to see you at ThrillerFest.

  8. Linda says:

    Dear Christine…great news about your new sailing mate!! he looks adorable and looks like he already has his sea legs!! have a great summer and maybe 2012-13 will be the year that we get together!! safe travels and I love following your blog!! linda

  9. Bob White says:

    Looks like we need Caesar Milan. Fair winds and following seas.
    Bob and Doris

  10. Thanks for all the comments everyone. Bob, you’re right, I sure could use The Dog Whisperer. You know how Barney Rubble was Fred’s friend on The Flintstones? Well, I think this guy should be named Barney Trouble.

  11. Bubba says:

    Hello Christine, I saw you and Barney out for a walk yesterday. I wasn’t sure it was you but after seeing this I know it was. Be safe on your trip this summer. Bubba.

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